Is Victoria haunted? A paranormal look at Point Ellice House

Beyond Belief Paranormal Events examines the home’s history and hauntings

Be on the lookout for ghosts at this BC museum. Photo courtesy of Victoria News

By: Emma Jean, Staff Writer

When it comes to the paranormal, X-File like behaviour, I tend to be more of a Scully than a Mulder, and not just because I also can’t settle on a shade of red hair dye. I’ve never been one to believe in ghosts or spirits, which was part of the reason why I was intrigued by Beyond Belief Paranormal Events’ presentation on Point Ellice House, a heritage museum home (and childhood obsession of mine) near the inner harbour in Victoria, British Columbia. 

Co-hosted by Point Ellice House’s executive director Dr. Kelly Black, the two-hour live stream presented an “evidence review” of the substantial amount of paranormal investigation done in the house. 

The history of the house was summarized by Dr. Black to the on-screen panel of investigators, and the 20 Facebook Live viewers who faithfully stayed well past the scheduled time. He told the story of the Wallace family who built the property on their farm in 1862, the affluent settler O’Reilly family who lived there until they sold the property to the British Columbian government in 1975, and the many servants and staff who maintained their property and lifestyle. 

It was also adjacent to the Point Ellice Bridge disaster of 1896, in which 55 people were killed when a transit bus fell, along with the bridge itself, into the ocean. The incident remains one of the most lethal transit accidents in Canadian history. In the aftermath, the house was turned into a makeshift morgue. Needless to say, Dr. Black concluded, there’s plenty of reasons to believe Point Ellice House could be haunted. 

As the investigators laid out the evidence they had gathered in the two years they have been working in Point Ellice House, it seemed clear there were even more reasons to believe the house hosts paranormal residents. Using devices like the Paramid, the team captured movement in areas where video confirmed there were no people. 

More evidence was presented, this time during what appeared to be a conversation with a spirit via a motion detector. After a series of staccato, abrupt beeps indicating detection, and attempts by the investigator to make sense of them, they made a request. “If someone’s in the kitchen, can you beep again but for a long time?” After a moment’s pause, the beep became a sustained, long note. Seemingly, an answer. 

With little frame of reference myself, it was hard to judge how these techniques and findings fare next to most paranormal investigations, but the presentation suggested it was legitimately done. As each piece of evidence was presented, it wasn’t with any editorialization; just as statements of fact. “Does this mean it’s paranormal?” posed one presenter after playing audio evidence. “Not necessarily, but it’s correlating and it’s interesting.” 

Even as the evidence steered into campy territory, it was still presented with an unflashy conviction that was almost more convincing than the evidence itself. During a public EVP session, or Electronic Voice Phenomenon in which questions are asked of a potential spirit and recorded for analysis, a response out of a B-film was found. “Are you in pain?” asks a member of the public to the open air. In real life, the paranormal guides say no response was audibly heard, but on the tape of the session, a growly low voice whispers: “pain. . .” 

In the moment, listening to that tape felt chilling and unsettling, with the same sentiment reflected in the responses from the viewers and panelists. As I repeated it to a friend later, however, it sounded like a kids’ campfire ghost story that someone’s jerk older brother would make up.

What do I make of all of this? I think that Point Ellice House represents an interesting and historic era of west coast history, and that any efforts, paranormal or otherwise, that support its upkeep are good. I still don’t know how to judge the paranormal evidence presented; in fact, I’m inclined to avoid judging it at all. Was there really a ghost in the kitchen, or was the alarm set off by some other factor? I really don’t know. I don’t think that anyone does! What I do know is the curiosity to find out keeps people engaged and interested in the world around them, and helps places like the Point Ellice House survive.